Football is often known as the beautiful game and while what happens on the pitch can be just that, often what is alleged to happen off the pitch can be the opposite. Every year, police in Scotland make hundreds of arrests at football grounds and in the surrounding areas on match days relating to violence and disorder among fans. If you have been charged with a football related offence, please contact Keith J Tuck and our criminal defence solicitors will give you immediate, expert advice.
Where it is alleged you have been involved in violence, you could be charged with the common law offence of assault. Moreover, where your behaviour is deemed to cause the public fear and alarm through actions such as shouting, swearing and behaving in a disorderly manner you may be charged with breach of the peace.
However, since 2012 you can also be charged with an offence under the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012. This is where you are alleged to have behaved in a way to incite public disorder, and your behaviour is such that it expresses hatred towards a group of people based on characteristics such as their religion, race or sexual orientation.
For offences such as assault and breach of the peace, the court has the same sentencing powers as it would if the offence was not related to football. These are:
Depending on the type of procedure and the severity of the crime, the sheriff court’s sentencing powers vary from up to 12 months’ imprisonment or a maximum £10,000 fine, to a maximum 5 years’ imprisonment or an unlimited fine.
Breach of the peace
If the case comes before the sheriff court, the maximum sentence is 12 months’ imprisonment or a fine up to £10,000. In the justice of the peace court, this is lowered to a maximum 60 days’ imprisonment or a fine of up to £2,500.
Where the offence is one under the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012, the sentencing powers are the same as assault. There is also the possibility that a community payback order (CPO) and fixed penalty notice will be imposed.
Additionally, there are a number of special consequences that can come from this being an offence with a connection to an incident while at a football match. Where the offence involved violence or disorder, the court has the power to impose a football banning order. This prohibits you from attending any football ground in the UK and matches played abroad. The length of time the ban is applicable for varies but it can be for up to 10 years. A football banning order also restricts your liberty on match days by preventing you from frequenting public places and using public transport as a means of preventing further disorder.
Given the range of sentencing options available to the court, it is important to have experienced representation. Our solicitors can put your side across to the court and explain your personal circumstances to assist in reducing the severity of any penalty.
Contact our Football Crime Defence Lawyers in Glasgow
For expert advice and representation where you have been charged with a football related offence, contact us today on 0141 413 8920 or fill out our online enquiry form.